Having lived among Michigan’s pine trees, sand dunes, and many waters for almost fifty years, it has been an amazing change to share territory with giant saguaros, Teddy Bear cactus, and the general desert terrain. My good neighbor, Liz, suggested that I take an ATV ride out into the desert behind North Ranch with her husband, Russ. Even I thought when we left at 8:30 a.m. that we would be back by 10:30. At least three times during our ride, he gave me the choice of “That road leads home; this one goes further into the desert.” What Russ didn’t realize, is that I would always choose the longer route. Almost 5 hours later, we returned.
Although I had hiked and ATVed some of it previously, he took me further than I had ever been. At first glance from North Ranch, the terrain looks quite flat and uninteresting but it doesn’t take going very far to realize there are deep valleys, suicide hills, and cliffs with a immense variety of desert plants and critters. I think he promised we would see at least one rattlesnake like he and Liz had seen in their various daily forays, but nary a snake sneered from our sunny slopes. We saw many big-eared, long-legged jackrabbits and lots of scurrying lizards darting for their lives ahead of us. Hawks glided effortlessly in the thermals, looking for that delicious equivalent to Denny’s senior breakfast. The biggest critters we saw were thankfully docile or seemingly so. Huge bulls with equally huge horns were among the cattle grazing contentedly. Springtime babies bolted at our noise although we slowed to creeping speed under their watchful and skittish eyes.
Russ stayed on well-used trails rather than making new paths, something I wish all off-roaders did. I snapped pictures as we traversed steep, lop-sided routes that would have turned my hair white if it hadn’t already been done. The orange and yellow poppies, blue lupine, and an abundance of other unidentified flowers lounged magnificently in our desert world. Get out and explore your terrain, it is great fun. God Bless until next week.
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At 45, Widow Minshall began 20 years of solo full-time RVing throughout Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. Sharlene canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs, worked a dude ranch, visited Hudson Bay polar bears, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. She lectured at Life on Wheels, published six RV-related books and wrote a novel, “Winter in the Wilderness.”